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Open Mike: Wounded Warrior event helps make a difference

SHARP IN CAMO — Springville’s Tia Woodarek (right) and Mount Mercy’s Carolyn Grandits sport their camouflage jerseys as they play in the Wounded Warrior project game on Saturday. Photo by Jeffrey Barnes.
John Glose joked that he kind of felt bad about charging a $5 admission to the Jan. 26 basketball games at Mount Mercy – the spike in price a result of proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project.

But, after four quarters and two overtimes, his Mount Mercy squad and the Springville-Griffith Institute girls gave a performance in the varsity game worthy of that entry fee to attend. As it turned out, the game itself was certainly worthy of the cause it represented.

Trailing virtually the entire game until the final minutes of regulation, Mount Mercy squeaked out a 54 – 52 double OT win against S-GI during the second annual Wounded Warrior Project fundraiser event, in a packed gym at the all-girls private school in South Buffalo. Both teams donned camouflage jerseys for the game.

“It all went to a good cause and [the spectators] got their money’s worth, so it worked out perfectly,” Glose said afterward, as he helped usher in former players from the school for the inaugural Mount Mercy alumni game. The junior varsity teams led off the three-game day, with Springville’s holding on for a 2-point win against Mount Mercy.

The event was not only a smashing success on the court, but also off it, where about $2,500 was raised, through the admission fee, 50/50 raffles and theme auction of sports memorabilia.

“I heard about this event last year and we were happy to be invited this year,” Springville head coach Christopher Mathewson said. “I’m proud that John selected us. It was a nice close game; wish we could have won, but certainly it was a great experience. It was fun; a good game for the event we were having today.”

Many talk of supporting our troops, but not everyone does something to directly impact them. Matthew Ondesko, our managing editor, with the support of Metro Group Inc., has put time and effort into action, creating events and awards for student-athletes in honor of the troops that protect this country, and sometimes, need our assistance.

“It’s an absolutely outstanding event; and we owe a lot to Matt and Metro Group and everyone involved; they’re a big part of what’s made this event a success,” Glose said. “We’ve got tons of people here and the gym is packed. It’s great basketball and we’re giving to an outstanding cause and helping people, so everything works out. I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

Ondesko thought up the idea and through his contacts, involved Mount Mercy. In a way, it appropriately takes place in his hometown of South Buffalo. It’s where he grew up in a military family, his father having served during Vietnam; others, like his grandfather, uncles and a number of friends, have also been military service members.

He also named an award, recognizing leadership and courage of student-athletes, after Andrew Maisano, a Saint Francis High School and West Point graduate, who is currently serving overseas. Ondesko covered Maisano as a student-athlete, when it became clear that Maisano was the epitome of what the award would come to stand for. It is handed out twice per year, at Metro Group’s fall and spring banquets, which honor WNY student-athletes.

Although he did not serve in the military himself, Ondesko is driven by his appreciation for the efforts of those who have served.

“I’ve always had that sense of loyalty to my country, even though I never signed up and fought,” Ondesko explained. “I feel this is a great way to give back in a different manner. It’s a great way to get the word out about the contributions of our military members, especially our young military members.”

He is helping spread that word, through his profession, for the good of not only the troops, but the student-athletes Metro Group covers.
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